Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why I Garden

People ask me if I ever get tired of running a nursery and why I garden.  The first question is easy; no.  The second question is a bit more complicated to answer because there are so many reasons behind it.  I say I garden because it is cheaper than therapy, but if you saw my plant wish list, that point could be debatable, but it is emotional therapy.
Just wandering in the garden raises my spirits and heals my soul and refreshes my senses.  Christian Bovee is quoted "To cultivate a garden is to walk with God" and I do feel closer to God as I witness the miriacle of spring.
  I can't paint or draw, so the garden becomes my canvas and flowers become my paint.
 The garden is also where I try my hand at photography. Plants are very patient and will allow numerous pictures to be taken without complaint. It gives us hope for the future as we plan our garden for the seasons we envision ahead.   Gardening creates a  sense of community.  I have never meet a stranger who gardens, as we find ourselves talking for hours and looking forward to our next visit.  It’s what keeps me going through February, anticipating an early spring in March or staying patient till April.  Time can pass so pleasantly in the garden as I weed and listen to my daughter read out loud. 
My children flourish in the garden; the blank stare that I see on their faces as they watch TV disappears as they begin to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the garden and we sometimes even have a long conversation about nothing at all.  It is a place of peace and joy and the daily worries tend to weaken or fade away once you step into the garden.  I garden for the pure pleasure of it, which sums up, all of the above.
I told you the second answer was complicated, but anyone who truly loves gardening, understands.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I Feel Like Mrs. Blandings

As I plant my garden, taking height and spread into consideration along with both the color of flower and foliage, I realize some people would think I’m too picky or neurotic.  But if you’re going to spend the time and money on your garden, no sense just putting things willy-nilly.  Though sometimes when I am done, it looks like that is exactly what I have done.  My need to ponder over the shade of blue for a certain area or question whether there is enough contrast between plants makes me feel a bit like Mrs. Blandings.  If you have never seen ‘Mr. Blandings builds his dream house’ with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, you are missing a classic.  The following is my favorite scene between Mrs. Blandings, the Contractor and the Painter:
Muriel Blandings: I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin's egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don't let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I'd like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you'll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can't go wrong! Now, this is the paper we're going to use in the hall. It's flowered, but I don't want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There's some little dots in the background, and it's these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room - in here - I want you to match this thread, and don't lose it. It's the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it's practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy winesap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me...
Mr. PeDelford: You got that Charlie?
Charlie, Painter: Red, green, blue, yellow, white.
Mr. PeDelford: Check.
So, as someone compliments the blue flower in my garden, I bite my tongue to keep myself from telling them it’s more indigo than blue. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gardening Advice Can Be So Confusing

I once looked at the Farmer’s Almanac for information on the proper time to plant my garden, but could never figure out the moon phases.  I cannot tell the difference between a waxing or waning moon, and using the signs of the zodiac is of no use now that half the populations’ signs have changed or does the Zodiac even matter in planting?  I get Astronomy & Astrology mixed up too.  But thankfully I get a lot of advice from gardeners who come to the Garden Center to buy their plants, so I will gladly share them with you.

  •          Start your garden when blackberries bloom.
  •          Plant corn when the Dogwoods bloom.
  •         Plant your garden on Good Friday.  That is the only day of the year when the devil is thought to be powerless. 
  •          Crops should be sown from North to South, and never East to West. This one actually has some scientific ground as crops sown in this manner receive more sunlight between the rows per day due to the angles of the sun.
  •          Putting eggshells into your tomato planting holes to help prevent blossom-end-rot has also been proven "true-ish" by modern science. (Calcium helps prevent BER, and eggshells have calcium in them.)
  •         Plants that grow upward toward the sky should be planted in the morning sun, while plants that grow deep into the earth should by planted by moonlight.
  •         Plant potatoes at night so the eyes don't see light.
  •         Planting peppers when you are mad makes the peppers grow hotter.
  •         If a red-headed person plants peppers, they will be hotter than normal.  Will they be really hot if planted by an angry red-head?
  •          My mother swears that the only way to get rid of a locust tree is to cut it down on a black night in August
  •       Sage thrives in the garden of a woman who rules her household and her husband firmly.
  •         Stolen plants grow better, because "they want to make you feel guilty."
  •          Do not thank someone for seeds or they will not sprout and do not thank them for a plant, or it will wither and die.
  •         Eat sugar before planting fruit trees to make the fruit sweeter.  If I thought this would work, I’d gladly plant fruit trees and eat Milkyway candy bars.
  •        You may have heard the old saying that planting potatoes should always be done on Good Friday. This is an old wives' tale that should be forgotten. Good Friday does not fall on the same calendar date each year and many parts of the country are still deeply buried under snow at that time   However; I like this one because I think I was a little late getting my potatoes in the ground this year.
  •         For a good crop of watermelons, crawl to the patch backwards on the first day of May. This one is just downright ridiculous

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Deadly Sin 3a

Garden envy could be a sub-category to one of the deadly sins, and we all get it at one time or another.  We see a picture in a magazine or a plant on a garden show, or admire a yard as we drive down the road. So we run out, buy a bunch of plants, return home with our treasures then wonder what to do with them.  I love spontaneous customers. But, as much as I love to sell plants, I would rather sell the right plant.   First, know your yard.  Is it full-sun, part-sun, part-shade or shade?  Typically, full-sun is at least 6 hours of direct sun; part-sun and part-shade need 3-6 hours of sun (part-shade needing some relief from the hot afternoon sun); full-shade needs 3 hours or less of direct sun.  Next, what is your style?  Do you prefer everything to stay green all year or can you deal with bare areas in winter anticipating the plants that will fill in over summer?  Do you want your garden to be symmetrical or eclectic?  Manicured or a cottage garden?  Once you determine your style, visit some public gardens or go on a local garden tour, they are excellent places to pick up some ideas.  It also allows you to see a mature plant rather than trying to envision what a small container plant will look like in your yard in a few years. .  Remember, there is nothing wrong with garden plagiarism.   Some of the best gardeners are some of the best plagiarists; they see an idea and adapt it to their own garden, making it their own, the trick is, making it your own.   When you go to your local nursery or garden center, read the plant tag.  It is a wealth of information from sun tolerance to height and spread.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask a question, as a matter of fact, ask lots of questions.  That is what we are here for.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I met Hope today

Someone bought an oak tree the other day at our garden center.  It wasn’t a very big tree, maybe, only ten feet tall.  But as they drove off, I realized I had just met a person who has hope for the future.   We so often buy plants for instant gratification, not that there is anything wrong with that, my lively hood often depends on that.  But a ten foot oak is decades away from the sixty to seventy foot giant it will one day become.  I find myself wondering what the plans are for that tree.  Does the new owner envision it one day providing shade for their home or a tire swing hanging from a sturdy limb for a future grandchild to swing on?  Have they considered the countless leaves to be raked each fall, or do they only anticipate the young, bright green leaves each spring?  Do they see the branches as future homes for bird nests and acrobatic squirrels?  One day a tree house may be built in it, and hopefully no broken arms will be associated with it.  It will provide leaves for a pile to be jumped into and acorns to be stored for winter food.  Pictures taken many years apart will provide memories of when the tree was planted and cause expressions of awe, at how big it has become.  In the right location, that tree can grow for a couple hundred years, withstanding wind, snow and hopefully bulldozers.  The stories those old trees could tell….
In Morganton, North Carolina, where I grew up, a hundred plus year old oak filled our front yard.  People claimed that was the tree where Frankie Silver (of Frankie and Johnnie lore) was hung.  I often pulled the pillow over my head, so as not to hear its branches tapping against my window at night.  Unfortunately, Hurricane Hugo took that tree down, and the neighbors quickly claimed another large tree to be the site of Frankie’s demise.
With the unrest in the Middle East and a tsunami in Japan, long unemployment lines and short tempers here in the States, it’s joy to my heart to meet a person with hope for the future.